Positive reinforcement techniques, which I generally strongly support, do not seem to work well with too many U.S. legislators in recent years, especially presently. We’re way past time for tough love. If we get through this latest financial crisis, unscathed, we need to demand more from our Congresspersons.
Make U. S. Congresspersons pay $$$!
Legislators busy work for “kick the can down the road budgets” earns no pay, no perks!
Congress needs to increase the national debt limit, and stop playing games with the U. S. and world economies!
Then, Congress, get down to business and legislate for the American people, not just corporate America!
If Congress allows the United States to default on our debts August 2, 2011, then we should aggressively reject returning to office all those Congresspersons who are responsible for allowing this to happen.
Those legislators who take the credit worthiness of the United States as a hostage for their own agenda, with unwillingness to compromise, are betraying America’s best interests.
We must communicate unequivocably to Congresspersons that their lack of sincere negotiation and compromise is unacceptable! Compromise does not all happen on one side.
Consider California’s efforts to address severe state financial deficits with an inability of legislators to pass a timely budget, much less a balanced one for many years. Our state government has been suffering from the same malaise as our Federal Government legislative offices during this time of extremely severe financial crisis. Both state and federal legislators have been practicing purely rigid ideological stubbornness, are unwilling to negotiate, compromise and work together.
California has a budget now, though far from perfect for the tastes of either major political party. Perhaps our state is modeling an approach that could be used to motivate U.S. Congresspersons to learn how to prepare balanced budgets on time. The secret may simply be to:
ENFORCE a budget completion time deadline.
REQUIRE a balanced budget.
ESTABLISH consequences that effect Legislators if these criteria are not met.
Legislators’ salaries and all perks, including that wonderful exercise gym and pool, would cease to be free until they get the job done. They can’t prepare just any ole’ budget either, much less “kick the can down the road” on finance issues for future legislators and generations to resolve, as I’ve observed being done on select critical issues during many of my voting years.
Unfortunately, in applying these consequences, the legislators who are effectively performing their functions will suffer along with those who don’t. But...wait a minute...that’s just like what all the rest of us experience in our lives from the undeserved effects of those who don’t appropriately fulfill their responsibilities.
Remember those regulators who didn’t regulate? Remember those bankers who practiced magical banking? What about those Wall Street financial geniuses who are still raking in billions? Then, there all those large corporate covert operators in controlling positions to manipulate, even assert their will, for their own exploitative purposes. We get penalized for them, even though we didn’t do anything wrong. Where are our legislators who act in the best interests of those in the middle class and those with even less income?
Maybe if this consequence process prevails legislators will learn how to refine their time use, tone down their rhetorical grandstanding and minimize their political posturing, though it’s probably too much to expect they’ll ever eliminate that jawboning. Acquiring such skills might actually contribute to enhancing legislators’ ability to expand their professional talents to include negotiating and compromising.
Here’s a bit of state history and what’s happened in California, which is the world’s eighth largest economy. What transpires here has some impact not only on our citizenery but the financial world.
Years ago our legislators began feuding excessively among themselves, usually from the two major political parties ideological perspectives. They were unable to agree on a budget, taking longer each year to formulate one. Often the resulting budget was cobbled together with little relation to reality and a foisting to the future of paying for the present day’s costs. Increasingly legislators seemed never to get around to passing a budget until the last minute, then in recent years, not until long after the prescribed due date of June 15th. Last year we had no budget until October. Taxpayers finally became exceedingly frustrated.
Voters passed an initiative allowing a simple majority vote to pass a budget instead of the higher level of two-thirds vote. No longer would representatives from the dominant political party have to persuade a few from the minority groups to join their opposite number to pass a budget. Thus, voters have eliminated one of the obstacles legislators have cited in the past as a reason why they've been unable to keep this legal obligation to meet a time deadline.
But our state legislators have ignored some of the responsibilities of their job which includes negotiating and compromising on issue positions in order to achieve a budget formulation that would be in California citizens’ best interests. This year to meet the budget submission deadline they whomped up a sham budget that was just numbers monkey business for submission at the eleventh hour, as has so often been the case. Our governor gave fair warning he would not sign such a budget and he did not as their deadline passed.
California legislators were permanently penalized with no salary, no travel and no living expenses for each passing day after the budget submission deadline until a credible state budget was offered and signed. Our State Comptroller said legislators typically earn $95,000 a year plus $142 a day living expenses. For legislators in total, an expected $50,000 a day in savings was expected. Lawmakers generally lost salary and living expenses of about $4,830 over 12 days when California finally had an official budget. Granted these dollars didn't make much of a dent in our deficit, but that wasn't expected. The budget has a lot of shortcomings but it's a start. I look forward to seeing when our California state budget is submitted next year.
I wonder if there is any Congressperson with the courage to introduce a federal late budget penalty bill like California's, much less whether a majority of the Representatives would pass it? Perhaps such a bill would dramatically reinforce the seriousness of our expectations that Congresspersons effectively perform their jobs and that they all become determined to work together.